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Salaries for number of years of experience

Henry Wong

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 20514

I keep seeing discussions about salary ranges for number of years of experience -- and I sometimes see it for people with many many years of experience.

For juniors, with only a year or two, I kinda understand the discussion. With little experience, and only a few years to prove yourself, a large portion are group together -- and in a word, kinda treated like a commodity.

However, does this discussion really work when there are lots of years of experience? I figure, once you past 10 years, you have specialized in a domain; you have specialized with some technologies; you have been networking, and have established contacts who knows your skills, and are willing to pay a premium for you. On the other hand, you could have also developed a reputation for being hard to work with, or having questionable skills.

How is it possible to discuss a usable range? You would think that this possible ranges are huge.

Just wondering, if this type of discussion is even useful...


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Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 33098

I agree. I'm hoping this thread becomes an FAQ and linked to a lot!

Even for the US government which has "salary grades" they don't go my number of years. As a reference, last year's GS table shows the salaries for grades 1 through 15. I don't work for the government, but this information is publicly available making it a good example. Two things of note:
  • 1) Grades do not go by experience. One has to get promoted into the next grade. The steps are for people two stay within a grade for a long time. It does not mean you stay in a grade for 10 years.
  • 2) Each grade has a sizeable range of salary.

  • In the private sector, the ranges aren't as clearly/publicly documented. However, someone is hired for a position not based on number of years alone. For example, if I am hiring a "senior developer", I expect him/her to be able to do certain things. Not solely based on # years experience. Years are often a minimum though. Someone with two years of experience is highly unlikely to be able to do everything the position requires.

    And I definitely agree past 10 years, the skill levels diverge more. I'm not quite at 10 years yet, but I can see people my age who are code monkeys and others who are starting to be architects. I see people who are experts on topics/go to people and others who just do what they are told. Another aspect after 10 years, is the technology space has changed to much to just be an "X developer." There are some exceptions like COBOL I suppose. But even in the Java space, if all you know is the Java you learned 10 years ago, you are doomed. New features in Java, CSS, ORM etc are still key even if you aren't using another language. The early stuff becomes something you know but don't use as much. It's the experiences and skills you gained from that which become important. Or didn't. For example, I reinvented fix cards because I had never heard of them. Someone from the mainframe days would have gotten to that point somewhat faster. Or seen the need for them before we learned the hard way.

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    arulk pillai
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: May 31, 2007
    Posts: 3371
    It also depends on how well you sell yourself to your prospective employers.

    Someone with a 5 year experience can sell himself or herself much better than someone with 10 year experience by bringing out his/her achievements, experience, soft-skills, etc in a better light.

    This is very subjective, and cannot be easily categorized by just number of years of experience alone. Some people have just the same year's experience repeated 3 times, whilst others have real 3 year experience by working on wide varieties of projects. Some are more pro-active in learning things compared to others.

    As a guide, people can go to websites like http://www.payscale.com/ or by checking the local advertisements to get a rough indication as to how much they are worth. This will only be a guide. The real value depends on

    -- How well you can contribute to your prospective employers.
    -- Your past accomplishments and experience well presented in your resume/CV to get more job interviews.
    -- Your performance at the job interviews to convince your propsective employer(s) that you can get the job done.
    -- The number of job offers you get and your ability to negotiate, pick , and chooose the job that is conducive to your career aspirations as opposed to settling with the first offer.
    -- Your ability to network and look for jobs through non-traditional channels (e.g. through your contacts, by building your online persona, ringing up your past employers, etc)
    -- Your ability to find a niche field in addition Java experience -- For example Java/JEE + web Methods or Java/JEE + Oracle Service Bus, or Java/JEE + invetment bank domain knowledge/Insurance domain knowledge, etc. This will enable you to standout from the rest.

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    Luke Kolin
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Sep 04, 2002
    Posts: 340
    Beyond a few (probably five or so) years of experience, I don't care how much there is. I become far more interested in what they've DONE, rather than how long they have been doing it for. Same thing with a degree - most people I interview I can't tell you how long they've been working or what their degree is in since I pay so little attention to it.

    It's an unfortunate trait that I've seen on resumes - highlighting quantitative years of experience in a technology. It's a pretty useless metric and reflects poorly both on those who mention it and those who require it.


    arulk pillai
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: May 31, 2007
    Posts: 3371
    Luke, you are absolutely right, but unfortunately many recruitment agencies quantify these things. When they ring me up, they ask me Servlets how many years? Spring how many years, etc. I used to exaggerate a bit to by pass them and get an actual interview, if I am very confident with a piece of technology/framework. Otherwise, your resume would not even get shortlisted. Now that I have enough experience, I don't have to do this any more I even try to find my assignmenets through my contacts and aquaintances first.
    Pradeep bhatt
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Feb 27, 2002
    Posts: 8927

    When they ring me up, they ask me Servlets how many years? Spring how many years, etc

    I thought it happens only in India. Are you in Australia ?

    I think roles should be used for comparison after 8 years of experience. In India people except one to be architect or manager after 8 yrs experinece. Of course there are exceptions.

    Sonny Gill
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Feb 02, 2002
    Posts: 1211

    I think a lot of those questions are for companies in India.

    Many of these companies have hundreds or thousands of programmers, and quite high rates of attrition. Every year they have to hire hundreds of new people. As a result, each company has its own formula (or procedure) for deciding the salary based on the number of years which after all is the most visible factor if you don't have the skills or inclination to understand each person at a more personal level.

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    Parag Pathak
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jun 22, 2010
    Posts: 57
    Sonny Gill wrote:.............. As a result, each company has its own formula (or procedure) ........

    Here it is that formula http://www.coderanch.com/t/499778/Jobs/careers/much-Salary-ask-Pune-Product
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    subject: Salaries for number of years of experience
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